Activating Your Superpower

I began my brisk walk on the trail like usual, a podcast cued up and ready to play at 1.2x speed, ready to burn some fat and learn something valuable.  I only do this form of exercise once/week and look forward to it.  As I rounded a corner, the view caught me off guard.  This is a view I see (or don’t see) every week.  The different shades of green from the different trees, weeds and grass, blue sky.  I stopped the podcast.  I slowed my walk.  I took some deep breaths.  I noticed the birds singing and saw them flit between trees.  The wind made everything move and shimmer.  The sunlight amplified the shades of green.  I felt like I was in a sacred grove.  I felt connected to the beauty around me.  I felt grateful.  I felt warm and radiant.  I felt in awe.

My therapist daughter recently introduced me to polyvagal theory which corresponds with what I’ve been teaching and practicing concerning our parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.  The above moment would be considered a ventral vagal state, which correlates to the parasympathetic healing state. This website has great info and a neat chart if you want to know more. 

Both parasympathetic and sympathetic are part of the autonomic nervous system.  That means that they react to stimuli automatically.  But there are some things we can do to consciously get ourselves out of the rushed, hectic, frenzied, worrisome, stressful state (sympathetic).  The parasympathetic state is one in which digestion, regeneration, detoxification, and healing occur.

Being in sympathetic state isn’t bad; it’s necessary at times, daily in fact.  We use it everyday to move, work, play sports, take on challenges, etc.  But we aren’t designed to sustain that state long term.  Doing so wears away at our physical, mental, and spiritual health.  Imagine the world with us all being Hulks most of the time!  We aren’t doing anyone any favors.  That Hulk mode is a superpower–to be used sparingly.  

Sometimes switching states feels subtle and flowing.  You spend time working on an urgent project or at a high stress job and then you take a break, eat, go for a walk.  Later you go home and relax, connect with loved ones and meditate.  Other times the switch feels like Hulk.  You’re calm and pleasant one moment and then turn mean, defensive, and irritable in an instant because of something someone says.  Just like Hulk, we need training.  Most of us need to practice slowing down and getting into healing mode (zen). It’s ok to be in “go, go, go, gotta get it done” mode for part of the day, but how many of us end up doing that all day?  

Studies show that “insufficient Parasympathetic activity with excessive Sympathetic activity (a typical result of persistent stress, including psychosocial stress) may suppress the immune system, over stimulate the production of oxidants leading to excessive oxidative stress, raise blood pressure, promote atherosclerosis, cause persistent inflammation, accelerate diabetes, promote atherosclerosis, and accelerate the onset of heart disease, kidney disease, or dementia.”,blood%20pressure%2C%20promote%20atherosclerosis%2C%20cause

I looked up articles in PubMed but there’s too many to list. 

I now allow myself time each day, several times a day to enter into this healing state.  We can spend a lot of time and money doing things to encourage this state; and we can do simple, free things as well.  As the above story illustrates, we can simply stop multitasking and focus on one thing, being really present.  We can take deep breaths.  We can watch a sunrise or sunset and smile.  We can connect with those we love.  We can enjoy a pet or nature. Light exercise.  Eat slowly, noticing the flavors and textures.  Hold hands with a loved one.  Gaze at the stars.  Hum a tune. “Take time to smell the roses.” These are some of the things we can create habits of doing often.  

I also use some therapies to aid my transition into a healing state.  BrainTap and light therapy are probably my favorites.  I’m using my DNA Vibe right now as I type this for light therapy.  I use an infrared sauna often.  BrainTap helps me get deep sleep at night or during a midday nap.  Sleep is critical for healing and regeneration.  I rarely wake up to an alarm and let my body awake naturally when ready.  I take vitamins to lower my cortisol level when needed.  I use adaptogenic mushrooms and Vit. D to enhance my immune system.  I fast for 3+ days quarterly to boost autophagy and stem cell production.  I eat low inflammatory foods…usually, lol.  I exercise regularly.  These are just more ideas that may speak to you.

My challenge this month is for each of us to choose at least 3 things to implement into our schedules that activate our healing power.  Improve the quality and quantity of that innate power and you’ll find yourself loving yourself, your life, and others even more.

All my Love,

Lisa Gilmore